tv [untitled] March 11, 2012 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT
general gates arrived to be the actual commander of the army, washington of course commander in chief. but gates being the general in charge at the encampment. the men in the encampment, of course, bored, not much to do, about 7,000 soldiers. there, they began to bill their huts at a place called new windsor, the new windsor encampment. they built about 700 wooden huts, neatly laid out for the winter encampment. and there they took up their quarters. what do you do with an army in this kind of situation? you drill and drill and then you drill some more, you build more huts, you build roads, you have to keep them busy, but it wasn't working very well. so chaplain evans decided let us build a temple of virtue. in the middle of the ep campment the soldiers went to work to build a temple of virtue, a gathering place where the men might come on sunday for religious services and where during the week the
administrative operation of the army took place. but clearly, all of this make busy work was not doing much for morale, and washington remained deeply concerned about the murmerrings that he heard in the army. in philadelphia, the congress decided, as certain members of the congress decided, to take action. pressed now, fearing that peace was coming, they decided to make their move. governor morris wrote to his good friend, general henry knox. a man from boston, the book seller from boston. knox had been with washington since the very first day of the war. he was washington's closest friend in the field. morris wrote to henry knox. he addressed his letter, my dear friend. he suggested that if knox would
agree that general knox might lead the army to press the states. he went on to say, to his friend, knox, the army may not influence the legislatures and if you will permit me a metaphor from your own profession, after you have carried the post, the public creditors will garrison it for you. while morris was given the assignment to write to general knox, knox at this time, the commander at west point, alexander hamilton was given the task to write to general washington. hamilton and washington had a tortured relationship. alexander hamilton arrived in america just before the revolution, timing is everything. went to college, became a
lawyer, the war broke out, joined the army, became a captain. distinguished himself. a fine soldier. came to the attention of general washington who invited this quloung myoung man to be his secretary which he accepted and served washington until one day, at headquarters, washington was going up the stairs, colonel hamilton was coming down the stairs, the commander in chief said to the colonel, colonel, i wish to see you immediately, the colonel responded, i'll be with you if a few minutes, sir. not the right answer to the commander in chief. washington turned on hamilton, berated him in front of his fellow officers, hamilton then resigned as secretary, returned to the army and later distinguished himself at the battle of yorktown which brought him back to some degree in washington's good graces. hamilton then left the army and was a congressman from new york. so hamilton is given the
assignment of addressing washington. i doubt that anyone really expected that general washington would join in any plot, but at the same time needed to test him out. how did he feel? hamilton warned washington that the army was on the brink of mutiny. he suggested to washington that the general might wish to control, direct the turrent was his suggestion. he also went on 0 to write something to washington which the general found insulting, if not hurtful. hamilton told washington there were rumors in congress, as well as in the army, his soldiers were disappointed with him. they accused the commander in chief of not doing enough for them in articulating their
demands and their grievances. washington found that particularly hurtful. hamilton then suggested that washington talk with general knox. a very, very dangerous game now was under way. both knox and washington had an ink link of what was going on in philadelphia, and now they were being drawn in. it seems to me entirely likely, probably, that general knox and general washington did in fact talk. their headquarters were about 12 miles apart. washington was in newburg, knox was at west point. i'm sure they did. they probably shared letters, the one from knox, the one from morris to knox, the one from hamilton to washington. these two men then replied to the men from philadelphia.
knox replied first. to governor morris, he told governor morris, i consider the reputation of the american army as one of the most immaculate things on earth. we should even suffer wrongs and injuries to the utmost verge of toleration rather than sully it in the least degree. i hope to god that the army will never be directed than against the enemies of the liberties of america. a few days later washington replied to hamilton. the fatal tendency to involve the army in political matters would be productive of civil commotions and end in blood. i stand as citizen and soldier.
citizen and soldier. well, the nationalists clearly had been rebuffed by knox and washington. and so they quite naturally turned to a man with whom they knew they could deal, general gates. general gates had his headquarters at a place called ellison house, very near the encampment. was surrounded there by a young staff, majors, lieutenant colonels. here's an interesting side light that i'll share with you. in talking the events here at newburg, it's often been suggested that general gates was unaware of what was going on and that the match nations i'm about to describe were purely the work of junior officers. i invite you to visit ellison house, headquarters, it's small, eight rooms, four up, four down. and in ellison house at this particular moment, general gates, three of his senior staff, several guards, cooks, et
cetera, it was a crowded place, and by the way, the ellison fally was there, too. they didn't want to leave. it's hard to imagine that he wasn't aware. and the study of history, when all else fails, when all of your analysis and looking at documents fails, i invite you to apply common sense. when you visit ellison house and look at this place and someone says to you that the general could not have known what was going on it's ludicrous. of course he did. what are those people in the corner doing? what are they talking about. >> what are they writing? he knew well. he knew well. so now at ellison house it begins the plot, the plot. on saturday, march 8, 1783, there arrives a messenger from philadelphia to general gates, colonel walter stewart. walter stewart, by the way, known as the handsomest man in the american army.
colonel stewart held a high ranger, inspector general of the northern army. washington was very unhappy with colonel stewart he spent to much time in philadelphia he didn't seem to be attracted to newburg, new york. when he arrived he went to the commander in chief to pay respects and then immediately to general gates. gates later wrote that colonel stewart has arrived with information from some of our friends in philadelphia. those friends could only have been, of course, morris and morris, hamilton and madison and some others. perhaps making overtures to general gates. that was saturday. the next day, sunday, was a very busy time at ellison house because the staff was busy writing, in particular, colonel john armstrong. armstrong was writing an address to the army at newburg. we know armstrong was writing it because the original's in
armstrong's handwriting. the original document. the document copied that night and on monday morning it was taken to the temple of virtue where every morning theage tants from the regiments arrived to get their daily orders and on this morning among the daily orders was this address. it began, it is anonymous, he did not sign it, the address began, gentlemen, a fellow soldier whose interests and affections bind him strongly to you, whose past suffering has been as great and whose future fortunes may be as desperate as yours, would beg leave to address you. will congress address our wrongs or will they trample on our rights? if peace comes and we put down our swords, what then? the address went on to rally the officers. and then declared at the en, we
will meet tomorrow, tuesday, the 11th at the temple of virtue. as soon as this address arrived at washington's headquarters, he immediately issued a general order canceling the meeting. washington knew that by simply canceling the meeting he was running a grave risk. so he canceled meeting, called for from this anonymous address but called his own meeting. a meeting, but he would be in control. there would be a meeting on saturday at noon, the 15th of march at the temple of virtue. and in this general order summoning this meet he indicated i, commander in chief will not attend, the matter is not of sufficient importance. washington had never in the whole course of the war ever addressed his officers as a group. never. he met with his staff certainly but never called his office. it would be again not protocol, again, inappropriate of the commander in chief to behave
like that. washington said i leave to to the senior officer in command to preside, the senior officer in command of course was general gates. and then they swung into work, having issued this now on monday, they know washington and his staff that they had best prepare for this meeting on saturday. as soon as washington's general's order comes out another anonymous address comes saying, look, the general is with us. he, too, has called the meeting. wrong to be sure, but trying to draw washington in now. washington was cautious. the fact of the matter is, at this particular moment, he could not trust his army. could not trust his army. but there was one thing that washington did know, that
general's made plan but the line officers, lieutenant, captains, majors, men in actual command who control the troops. so he in conjunction with his staff, colonel brooks, who later by the way becomes governor of our commonwealth, so he, colonel brooks' secretary, jonathan trumbull begin to play out a plan and the plan that is they will call all of these officers to together, that is the lieutenants, the captains and the majors, and speak to them directly. they must also prepare an address a speech. several days now spent in writing what is probably the most important speech ever given in american history. all in secret because, of course, washington's already announced that he's not coming to the meeting. noon, saturday, 15th of march, about 300 officers crowd into the temple of virtue.
building, by the way, reconstruction building, is there today on that historic site. general gates entered the room. everyone snapped to attention. he convenes the meeting. the officers attack their seats. and then from outside comes the noise of thundering hoofs, rattle of sabers, it is general washington's bodyguard, and in a moment there standing, literally standing in the doorway, 6'2", beautifully attired, is general washington. to the utter shock of everyone. washington entered the room, officers, of course, stood again. he went to the front of the room and general gates stepped aside. washington then reached into his pocket and pulled out a sheaf of papers. here i must explain to you why this sheaf of papers was so
important. as bob mentioned for sometime, i was the director of the massachusetts historical society. and on occasion i would wander through the shelves and the stacks, i had the keys to everything, and just browsed in this incredible archive. and in that incredible archive, carefully preserved in a lovely red leather binder, is the speech that washington took from his pocket on the 15th of march, 1783 in his own hand, in his own hand was the speech. that of course, was the event that prompted me to want to write about this event. and so washington lays out his papers now and says to the officers, gentlemen, you must excuse me, this meeting is so important that i have committed my thoughts to paper.
he then began to address them. it was a short speech. not more than eight to ten minutes. gentlemen, by an anonymous summons an attempt has been made to convene you together. how inconsistent with the rules of pry pryty, how unmilitary and subversive of all order and discipline let the good sense of the army decide, and then he made a few more remarks. thus, much gentlemen i have thought it incumbent on me to observe to you to show you upon what principles i oppose the regular are hasty meeting which was proposed to have been held on tuesday last. and not because i wanted a disposition to give you every opportunity consistent with your own honor and the dignity of the army to make known your
grievances. if my conduct heretofore has not evinced to you i have been a faithful friend to the army, my declaration of it at this time will be equally unavailing and improper. as i was among the first to embark on the cause of our common country, as i have never left your side one moment but when called from you on public duty, as i have been the constant companion and witness of your distresses and not among the last to feel and acknowledge your merits, i have every considered it my own military reputation as inseparably connected with that of the army, as my heart has ever expanded with joy when i have heard its praises and my indignation has arisen when the mouth of detraction has been opened against it. it can scarcely be supposed at this late stage of the war that i am indifferent to its
interests. he then concluded and let me conjure you in the name of our common country, as you value your own sacred honor, as you respect the rights of humanity, as you regard the military and national character of america to express your utmost horror and detesstation of the man who wishes, under any species pretenses to overturn the liberties of our country and who wickedly attempts to open the floodgates of civil discord and deluge our rising empire in blood. by thus determining and thus acting, you will pursue the plain and direct road to the attainment of your wishes. you will defeat the insidious designs of our armys who are compelled to reason to open
force to secret arty fis. you will give me one more distinguished proof of on example patriotism and patient virtue rising superior to the pressure of the most complicated sufferings. and you will by the dignity of your conduct afford occasion for posterity to say, when speaking of the glorious example you have exhibited to mankind, had this day been wanting, the world has never seen the last stage of perfection to which human nature is capable of attaining. shakespeare, henry v, washington finished his speech. there was silence. silence. dead silence. he thought that he had lost them.
he thought that he had lost them. for that not with his army, but in opposition to it. fearing this, he reached in his pocket once more, and took out a letter. it was a letter from joseph jones, congressman from virginia, and here the document becomes all important. i mentioned the document at massachusetts historical society is written in washington's own hands, large letters. the official copy of the speech, the one written by his seconds in the papers of washington in the library of congress is written in the hand of his secretary, jonathan trumble, a fine hand, a normal size hand. friday night i think washington
did an all nighter. after the speech was written by him and by his secretaries i'm sure there was collaboration, he sat down and recopied that speech in large letters, in his own hands so he could read it. kind of an early version of a teleprompter. but now, as he read joseph jones' letter he began to stumble over the words. he reached in his pocket, and brought out his glasses, and the officers were stunned. they had never seen the commander in chief with glasses. two weeks before, two weeks before washington had received these glasses from david rittennous philadelphia. as soon as he received the glasses he had written back something that may be familiar to some of of you. he thanked him for the glasses,
and to tell him that he was having a little trouble adjusting to them. wasn't quite comfortable with them. but now, for the first time in public, in order to read jones' letter, he took his glasses out and as he did, he looked out at the officers and he said to them, gentlemen, you must forgive me, my eyes have grown dim and my hair has grown gray, in the service of my country. not a dry eye in the house. not a dry eye in the house. he then went on to read mr. jones' letter which was per function tory, finished the letter, put everything back in including his glasses and walked out. as soon as he reached the door, the general offered resolutions in support of the commander in
chief, spontaneous of course. it all had been so carefully planned. the resolutions were offer and voted on unanimously. i do wonder what must have been going through colonel armstrong's head, general gates head as they had to vote for the resolutions. the resolutions were carried to congress, the army while distressed was loyal. almost the same moment, that the resolutions arrived from newburg, news arrive from paris, peace. peace. not the final treaty, that would take a little bit longer, but that stubborn king, george iii had acceded to the independence of the colonies of the states. the war was essentially over. news was sent backing to new
burgh, general washingtons and general washington issued an announcement of cessation of hostilities. that was made at the temple of virtue on april the 19th, 1783. eight years to the day of lexington and concord. as soon as the army heard the news, a cry was universal, discharge, discharge, they had not been paid and they won't be paid for quite a while, they wanted to go home. the army peacefully, carefully, dismantled and returned to their homes. washington had one more mission, one more errand to do. december the 23rd, 1783, he journeyed to annapolis, maryland.
continental congress was meeting at the state house of maryland in annapolis. he entered the chamber, to return to the congress what they had given him, in june of 1775. in june of 1775, they had literally given him his commission as commander in chief of the army. on december the 23rd, 1783, general washington returned and in a very solemn, but brief ceremony, he literally returned to the congress his commission. and then left the chamber, no longer general or commander in chief but simply as mister. to fine this whhollywood and arrived on christmas eve, 1783. a few days later from mount
vernon, he writes to a friend how good it is, how good it is to be in retirement and to be a private citizen. and to never again have to be called to public duty. on that, he was wrong. i'm not suggesting that in march of 1783 there would be a grand coup, there wasn't much government to strike at in march of 1783 but imagine if the army had taken up arms or marched or issued some kind of strong protest. that bright line that stands in our republic between civilian and military would have been crossed. and could it never have been redrawn again. refu revolutions are not uncommon but the ones that succeed are uncommon.
i can't explain why some revolutions work and others don't. but i know why our's did. our's worked because we had george washington. thank you all. [ applause ] >> should i take easy questions? okay, yes, please. >> i'm confused because i always thought that our revolution was against the british and you just indicated it was against the french. >> no, no. the french were our alli seves. >> you said paris? >> the place for peace negotiation, british, french and americans took place in paris. peace negotiations. where else?
well thank you all very much, you have been very kind, thank you. [ applause ] >> you're watching american history tv. 48 hours of people and events that help document the american story. all weekend, every weekend on cspan-3. >> james madison the fourth president of the united states often referred to as the father of the contusion owned about 100 slaves at montpellier, his estate in orange county, virginia. american history tv travelled 90 miles south of the nation's capital to learn about an archeological project investigating the enslaved communities of james madison's montpelier. the three year project is joinedly funded by the national in do youment for the humanities and montpelier foundation. >> my name is matthew reeves, director of archeology, and
where we're standing is the area where the house slaves for the madisons lived and worked and what we're in the middle of is an archeological investigation of the area. we first learned about the south yard through an insurance map that is dated to 1837, this is when dolly moves back to washington d.c., takes out an insurance policy on the house, and part of what they need for the insurance policy is a plat showing where all the outbuildings are and we used this plat, it's incredibly important to hoe indicate the outbuildings in the area. in 1990, we located a chimney base, brick chimney base that we were able to figure out from the archeology was part of a duplex or slave chimney. two households would live there. with that, we'll